Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Any Port in a Storm
So now the US Coast Guard is weighing anchor on the proposed acquisition of the Peninsular & Oriental by Dubai Port World and the ramifications on national security at six US ports. The short answer is, they don’t know. Not enough info. Can’t tell.
I admit to first thinking, "what a goofy idea," allowing an Arab-owned company to be responsible for port operations at New York and five other cities on the Gulf and East Coasts. Then I realized that what we’re seeing is an emotional reaction to the news, which is fully understandable, but not wholly rational.
Look at it this way. When you fly to the United States on an air carrier, who checks your baggage? Not Continental Airlines. If you’re on a Russian flight, the US Customs Department clears your bags. If you fly to Texas from France, the US Immigration Service scrutinizes your passport, not the French. And were you to fly from Dubai to Dallas, it would be an American government agency that allows you to pass the checkpoint into the country.
So allowing DPW to operate the Port of New Orleans is no different. DPW is pushing the buttons and pulling the levers, but they’re not clearing or searching for contraband or bombs. That’s still the job of Homeland Security, a.k.a The Coast Guard in this instance.
Could a DPW employee possibly infiltrate security at the Port of Philadelphia, and allow people who do bad things to get into the country? Sure, but so could a swarthy-faced screener at LaGuardia International. Not bloody likely, because now we’re looking for that to happen.
A second point of consideration was brought up on my show by Carl Limbacher, the Editor of NewsMax.com, looking at the geopolitical arena, and what the allowance of DPW to operate US ports would mean to American interests in the Middle East.
Take a look at this map, and recall what’s going on in this part of the world right now. Iran and Russia are cooking up enriched uranium for the Iranian nuclear program.
The leader of Iran is a sworn enemy of Israel, and would love to wipe that country off the map. The enemy of my friend is my enemy, too.
How convenient might it be for the US to have a friend across the Gulf from Iran? Making nice with the UAE makes a lot more sense when viewed through the prism of these issues.
If you want to pick a bigger nit, ask what the Dubai Port World issue says about the practice of outsourcing, and how might that practice impact national security? If you’re bent about Arabs running the Port of Miami, where’s the hue and cry against South East Asians having access to banking information for US citizens? Al Qaida operates in both regions of the world.
Draw your own conclusions.
The real problem with the DPW acquisition of P&O and its impact on America is not the operational ramifications, but how the deal was done. Shame on the middle men in the Administration for not snapping to the sensitivities of the American people and the potential for outcry, and for their failure in short-circuiting criticism by being more open about the process.
The White House should not have been caught flat-footed on this issue, nor should the Coast Guard have been put in the position of saying they’re not sure about it. The glaring weakness of Government still exists, 4-1/2-years post-9/11—a failure to communicate on an inter-agency basis, and a failure to be forthright with the American people.
Frankly, I worry more about some white-bread moron loading up another Ryder rental truck with fertilizer and diesel to park in front of a target of opportunity, than swarthy subversives sneaking evil doers into a port operated by a US ally.